Something To Declare: Yotel opens in New York; Guaranteed seat to Paris; The Maldives; Islands of the Med


Bargain of the week: Yotel opens in New York

One month from today, the perennial problem of finding good-value accommodation in Manhattan gets easier to solve. Simon Woodroffe's Yotel concept, offering compact yet well-equipped rooms, opens at 570 Tenth Avenue (close to Times Square; 001 646 449 7700) on 7 June.

The star technological attraction is the Yobot, an electronic arm that is it claimed is "the world's most radical approach to storing left luggage". The property also boasts a Studiyo – a space for meetings and yoga (though probably not at the same time). What is more likely to tempt impecunious Britons is the introductory rate of $174 (£116) that applies on many nights during the summer. Unusually for US hotels, it includes continental breakfast – and also Wi-Fi.

Tip of the week: Guaranteed seat to Paris

Eurostar is making a bold new offer on its cross-Channel rail routes to and from St Pancras International station in London: an assured seat for passengers holding Business Premier tickets. If you have one of these (price £214 one-way to Lille, £260 to Brussels or Paris), you can turn up a minimum of 10 minutes before the departure of any train and demand a seat. If none is available in Business Premier class, you will be offered a Standard Premier seat; in the event all those are full, you can downgrade to Standard (with no refund); and, as a last resort, the train manager will find you a space in a staff seat or one of the tip-up seats in the vestibules.

Warning of the week: The Maldives

The Indian Ocean nation "has been going through a period of political transition," the Foreign Office warned this week. "Social unrest is possible and some past demonstrations on the capital, Malé, and other islands have resulted in violence. You should avoid demonstrations and beware of spontaneous gatherings."

The latest travel advice also warns about the strict prohibition of "materials deemed contrary to Islam", including Bibles and alcohol. In addition, "same-sex relations are illegal and convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences".

Destination of the week: Islands of the Med

May is the best month of the year to explore most parts of the Med, thanks to everything from blooming flowers to bargain deals. But should you choose Sicily or Sardinia? Which Balearic? And can you go French island-hopping? For answers to these and any other questions about the islands of the Mediterranean, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the shores of Cyprus, ask Simon Calder. The Independent's travel editor at large, pictured, will be at your service from noon to 12.45pm on Monday, 9 May. Visit independent.co.uk/travel

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